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Premiership Rugby issues statement on Scotland player release versus France

By Liam Heagney

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Talks are still ongoing between Premiership Rugby and the Six Nations regarding the release of English-based Scotland players for the rearranged March 26 match between France and the Scots at the Stade de France.

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The round three Guinness Six Nations match was originally set to go ahead in Paris on February 28 but it was postponed due to a virus outbreak in the French camp that affected a dozen players and four members of management, including head coach Fabien Galthie.

Six Nations officials finally confirmed on Thursday of this week that the France versus Scotland re-fixture would definitely be going ahead eight days later, but there was no update on the status of whether the English and French-based players in Gregor Townsend’s squad would be released for this game as it falls outside the current Test window.

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Seven of the players involved in the Scotland 23 for this Saturday’s game against Italy are based in England and all would miss out on next Friday’s re-fixture unless permission is received from Premiership Rugby.

Seven days out from the game, there was still no certainty what might yet transpire after Premiership Rugby issued a statement on Friday evening that confirmed a change in the kick-off for a live TV English league game next weekend but offered no confirmation regarding the player release situation.

“Premiership Rugby can confirm that it is changing the kick-off time for next weekend’s big West Country derby between Gloucester and Exeter, which is live on BT Sport,” read the statement.

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“The match was due to kick off at 7.45pm on Friday, March 26, but after the Six Nations committee last night announced the rearranged date and time for France vs Scotland, we have no alternative but to stage Gloucester vs Exeter earlier at 5.30pm to avoid a clash of televised rugby.

“Collaborative talks are ongoing between ourselves, the Scottish Rugby Union and the Six Nations committee regarding the release of players who are committed to their clubs during a weekend which was not designated for international rugby.”

A Premiership Rugby spokesperson added: “We do understand that we are in unprecedented times as sport faces its biggest crisis from the Covid-19 pandemic. In the spirit of collaboration, we continue to negotiate around the release of players, with appropriate compensation for the disruption to the clubs and the competition still to be agreed.

“We have a consistent and long-held policy only to release non-England players for matches that fall under World Rugby’s regulation nine which governs player release for international rugby.

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“This rearranged fixture is not covered by regulation nine but our clubs are considering making an exception to this policy, with reasonable reimbursement, as we are in unprecedented times.

“We have important Premiership games scheduled for next weekend and the withdrawal of players at short notice creates many issues for us, including commitments to our partners, broadcasters and supporters. We have already accommodated a kick-off change and want to find a way forward on the player issue.

“We will continue to collaborate with the Scottish Rugby Union and the Six Nations committee over the rearranged match and we hope to resolve the issue.”

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Premiership Rugby issues statement on Scotland player release versus France

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